Share “Suspect's family has questions in monkey...”

Suspect's family has questions in monkey killing

Associated Press Modified: November 20, 2012 at 5:16 pm •  Published: November 20, 2012

"The loss of this patas monkey has touched many lives, including our officers and investigators," he said.

Police say Watkins was visiting Boise with friends over the weekend from his home in Fruitland, about 60 miles away near the Oregon-Idaho border.

In 2008, Watkins finished in third place in the state championship wrestling tournament for small schools like his, Fruitland High School. He competed in the 130-pound division.

Julia Stroebel, who said she went to high school with Watkins in Fruitland, told The Associated Press that she is aware people who know the suspect are upset about the attack. However, she believes others also agree with her that level of outrage over the monkey's death is unfounded.

"We've had a couple murders happen in the area, brutal murders, in fact," Stroebel said. "They didn't get as much attention as a monkey dying. It seems sort of ridiculous."

"It's definitely wrong and messed up. I just think some people are getting too upset about it," she said.

Stroebel said Watkins had recently become a father.

Court records show Watkins has been in trouble with the law several times since graduating from high school in 2008, including separate drug-related arrests in 2009 and 2010 and a conviction for driving under the influence in 2009.

Police said they do not know whether Watkins may have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the break-in.

Officers have spoken with the other man spotted outside the zoo but do not expect charges to be filed against him, Masterson said.

Crimes at the zoo are rare, said Burns, who has been at the zoo 15 years. He doesn't recall another incident in those years in which a visitor harmed an animal.

Burns said it will take a few weeks before he can decide if the remaining patas monkey will be sent to another zoo or if another patas monkey will be brought in as a companion. The animals are social and need to be around members of their own species.

The monkey exhibit remains open to the public, although zoo workers were keeping some of the larger garage-sized doors to the exhibit closed to keep down noise, and keepers were giving the remaining patas monkey a little more attention, Burns said. The zoo kicked off a fundraiser to build a new exhibit house for the primates in September.

For now, he said, zoo workers are just focusing on caring for the remaining 300 animals at the zoo.

There won't be a memorial organized for the monkey, but the animal is in the community's thoughts, Burns said.

"We're going to grieve for the animal and make sure the community's OK. But we're going to move on with the plans that we have and continue to take care of the animals. Boise's a really nice place to live, and usually this kind of stuff doesn't happen in Boise," he said.